Rockdale County is one of the latest Georgia jurisdictions to begin cross checking inmates' fingerprints to identify undocumented aliens as part of an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement program.
The program, called Secure Communties, automatically checks fingerprints of those with criminal charges against both the FBI's criminal history records and the Department of Homeland Security's biometic system, according to a released statement. Previously, the fingerprints would be checked only with the FBI records.
"Once identified through fingerprint matching, ICE will respond with a priority placed on aliens convicted of the most serious crimes first - such as those with convictions for major drug offenses, murder, rape and kidnapping," read the statement.
This program is separate from the federal 287(g) program, currently in Gwinnett, Hall, Whitfield and Cobb counties, in which deputies and officers are trained to perform some of the functions of ICE agents.
"We look forward to participating in this important intiative as we work toward our ultimate goal of making Rockdale County a safer and more secure community," said Rockdale County Sheriff Jeff Wigington in the statement.
The Secure Communities program is already in place with 13 other jurisdicitions in the state, including DeKalb, Gwinnett, Fulton, Clayton, Cobb, Forsyth and Hall counties. Henry and Spalding counties were also recently added to the Secure Communties program.
Henry County Sheriff Keith McBrayer said in the statement, "Part of what makes this program so attractive is that it requires no specialized training and no additional costs to the taxpayer."
ICE began the information sharing program in October 2008. Since then, immigration officers have deported or removed more than 59,300 aliens convicted of a crime from the United States.
For more information, go to www.ice.gov/secure_communities.